08 July 2009

Vampire venom and infection

Reports of vampire venom are prolific, and it is easy to see why. Like the fanged snake, vampires are reported to inject a poison or infection into their victims. The attributes of the poison vary between accounts from anesthetic capabilities to fatal results.

Some sources claim that, when the "vampire poison gets into your blood, it numbs you, knocks you out" (Massy 521). The effects of vampire poison resemble that of snake venom and are "partly local, partly central. The blood is also deeply affected" (Sollmann 421). "Snakes that inject venom use modified salivary glands. Venom is a modified form of saliva and probably evolved to aid in chemical digestion" (Emedicine). If vampires do inject some form of venom, it is likely that it would server the same purpose as snake venom--after all, both creatures are natural predators.

However, venom is not the only poison associated with vampires. "We find in countless examples of vampire fiction drawing on metaphors of infection" (Day 32). Some sources indicate that the vampires "inject thousands of tiny parasites" into the bloodstream (Feehan 298). According to Montague Summers,"the subsequent consequences" of a vampire bite are "the terrible anemia and Hemoplegia which may result in death followed by the vampire infection" (Summers 177).

The notion of an infectious vampire bite is closely tied with the idea of reproduction via the bite. The idea is that "unless the most drastic and immediate remedies are applied, a person who is attacked by a vampire and whose blood has been sucked will become a vampire in turn imbued with a craving to pass on the horrible pollution" (Summers 168).

"Various sources of fear represented by the late nineteenth-century vampire and its best known manifestation in Dracula- fear of degeneration, fear of infection," and "anxiety about ...preservation" (Day 68). These mortal worries are inescapable, and aggravated by the religious powers. "It could well be argued that the Church spread the vampire-infection" (Masters 187). If the threat of excommunication did not keep parishioners inline, then perhaps the fright of becoming a vampire would.

In our blog article on Vampire Reproduction the idea of spreading vampirism through a simple bite was refuted. If a vampire bite was enough to create a new vampire, then a "child" would be made every time a vampire fed. Since the world is not overpopulated by vampires (although it may seem so if you browse the young adult section of a bookstore), this is most likely not the method of reproduction.

However, we cannot disprove the existence of poison or infection in the vampire's bite. As mentioned in the previous blog post, a vampire bite can certainly transmit any blood-born illness such as malaria or HIV.

Neither can we empirically refute vampire venom. Yet, when we look at venomous snakes we see that "envenomation is completely voluntary," and "all venomous snakes are capable of biting without injecting venom into their victim" (Gold 347). It is logical to assume that venomous vampires possess the same capability. Furthermore, there are plenty of snakes that do not inject venom with their bite. It is possible that the bite of a vampire is innocuous with the exception of its blood-letting capability, yet infection through a vampire bite has been the source of great fear.

Unfortunately, "Even to-day (1929) in certain quarters of the world, in remoter districts of Europe itself, Transylvania, Slavonia, the isles and mountains of Greece, the peasant will take the law into his own hands and utterly destroy the carrion who--as it is yet firmly believed--at night will issue from his unhallowed grave to spread the infection of vampirism throughout the countryside" (Summers xxi). Furthermore, animals suspected "of vampire infection" were "exhumed, chopped into pieces, and burned" (Bunson 303). "It seems that the most dangerous infection...is not vampirism but the infectiousness of violence itself" (Day 198).



  • Banks, L.A. The Wicked.
  • Bunson, Matthew. The Vampire Encyclopedia.
  • Day, Peter. Vampires.
  • EMedicinehealth.com http://www.emedicinehealth.com/snakebite/article_em.htm Snake Bite
  • Feehan, Christine. Dark Possession.
  • Gold, Barry S.; Richard C. Dart, Robert A. Barish (1 April 2002). "Bites of venomous snakes". The New England Journal of Medicine 347 (5): 347–56. ISSN 00284793. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/347/5/347?ijkey=/Romzox5/Yq3A&keytype=ref&siteid=nejm. Retrieved on 2009-06-25.
  • Massy, Brandon. Dark Corner.
  • Masters, Anthony. The natural history of the vampire.
  • Sollmann, Torald Hermann. A Manual of pharmacology and its applications to therapeutics and toxicology.
  • Summers, Montague. The vampire his kith and kin.


  1. "Since the world is not overpopulated by vampires (although it may seem so if you browse the young adult section of a bookstore)"

    Great line, and another great read.

  2. In twilight, it says the vampire venoms rages through you like a fire, burning hotter than the sun. It changes you as it moves around your body , pumped within your blood by your unwilling heart. It lasts for three days and then, when the pain stops, your heart beats it final beat and you open your eyes, your humanity is a dream. You are a vampire.

  3. That's nice. Stephenie Meyer and I disagree, often. For instance, I think a sparkling vampire is embarrassing. She thinks he is sexy. Let's call it a generation gap.

  4. wait if feel that something every night i dream of a lunar eclipse then the day has arrived then i was burning that was my dream